“One killer reunion.”
Director: Anthony DiBlasi / Writer: Laura Brennan / Cast: Heather Morris, Ryan Doom, Perez Hilton, Chad Addison, Tess Christiansen, Johnny Ramey, Tatum Miranda, Marci Miller, Jason Tobias, Skyler Vallo, Jake Busey.
Body Count: 7
Laughter Lines: “Oh please, like this Cabin in the Woods shit really happens!”
There’s yet to be a slasher film at a proper reunion. You know, scores of attendees back at their old school or a hotel, a DJ, stupid ‘most improved’ prizes – and a killer on the loose. Spoilers ensue.
Instead, virtually everything seems to pivot on a small group of wrongdoers lured to a cabin/house/dilapidated schoolhouse where they’re assembled to pay for some dreadful past sin.
Most Likely to Die is not a departure from this cheap tried and tested method – but nearly is. Set entirely at a house in the hills on the Californian coast, nine old high school pals gather to prep for the proper reunion the next night. Where are their hosts? Were they murdered at the beginning?
Our girl to watch is professional poker player Gaby, ex-girlfriend of TV star Brad, who has brought along his supermodel girlfriend, Bella. On the wall, nine yearbook photos with their ‘most likely to…’ tag beneath: ‘Get what she wants’, ‘eat anything’, ‘see their name in lights’ etc., all of which will come true in the most gruesome of ways.
Seems as if they were all party to a nasty prank on high school loser John Dougherty, who later brought a gun to school and was packed off to juvie hall.
Now, somebody dressed in a blue graduation gown, complete with razor-edged mortar board, is stalking the house, doing them in as per their quote. Well, some of them. The body count stays disappointingly low. Note to producers: IF YOU’RE GOING TO CAST PEREZ HILTON IN A SLASHER FILM, MAKE SURE HE’S DEAD BY THE TIME THE CREDITS ROLL.
Yeah, that’s right – the maligned spreader of mean gossip is spared a slashtastic death. I’m relatively indifferent to the man, I saw him acting like a dick on Celebrity Big Brother a few years ago, but that’s where my exposure to him pretty much begins and ends. The fact that he’s a despised limelighter should mean that his inclusion in a body count horror film would capitalise on the opportunity, much like almost-namesake Paris Hilton was done away with in House of Wax. Fatal error. Or rather, not fatal enough.
Nevertheless, there’s enough to enjoy here for a once-over: Above average production attributes, with some nice shots, Morris is good as the heroine, and there’s a decent scene where she’s stuck down a gated alleyway, locked one end, not at the other. Guess where the killer is.
The outcome of the mystery isn’t surprising so much as it elicits a ‘meh’ of a revelation, and way too many of the characters survive, though notably all females who aren’t the heroine are laid to waste. Hmm…
ROT: REUNION OF TERROR
“Traditions were made to be broken.”
Director/Writer: Michael A. Hoffman / Writers: Meghan Jones, Justin Powell, Bill Cassinelli / Cast: Christian Anderson, L.J. O’Neal, Monique Barajas, Hallie Bird, Mark Carducci, Nori Jill Phillips, John Shumski.
Body Count: 9
Laughter Lines: “I don’t know about you, but I’m harder than Chinese arithmetic.”
The IMDb blurb for this tells us: “a secret is uncovered which reveals one of the most controversial and brutal twist endings in cinematic history.”
In order to investigate this thoroughly, unavoidable SPOILERS must follow.
Six high school friends reunite some years after school at a cabin in the woods, rented by one of them, who is nowhere to be found. Previously, a couple of lesbians were murdered while camping in the same woods.
The game warden keeps turning up, there’s no food, and the hitchhiker one of the party brings along doesn’t get on with the other girls. Then people start disappearing.
The assailant gathers most of them and kills them together, meaning little killing happens for most of the running time.
And that controversial, brutal twist? The killer is punishing the others because they gave his girlfriend a ride home years ago and afterwards she was raped, contracted HIV, and died. Yeah, totally their fault. This is topped by him infecting the lone survivor (a guy for once) and a total misrepresentation of what having HIV means (“it’s a death sentence!”)
Absolute crap from start to finish.
Blurbs-of-interest: Hoffman directed the equally risible Spring Break Massacre, Sigma Die! and Girls Gone Dead. Both Anderson and Shumski were in the former two.
Director: Michael A. Hoffman / Writer: Meghan Jones / Cast: Reggie Bannister, Joe Estevez, Brinke Stevens, Aly Hartman, Christian Anderson, Heather Zagone, Nikie Zambo, Katie Kiefel, Jeff Pride, Nick Bubb, Brian Parillo, Tony DeGuide, John Shumski.
Body Count: 12
Bigots Paradise: “If I ever decide to hire a woman, remind me to check between her legs first.”
A precursor to Spring Break Massacre, which may as well be the exact same film. So much so, I wondered if it had just been repackaged under a different name a year later. Sadly not the case.
Instead, this outdated piece of shit begins with a quick meta-slasher tour through a teen party, crashed by an alien-masked killer who quickly does away with several of them in the space of about ten minutes.
Then we skip back to ‘one day earlier’. Why, exactly? We already know what’s going to happen. There is no cleverly threaded twist going on in Sigma Die! that necessitates a flashback 24 hours. It also means we get to see much of the massacre scene again, evidence that the film probably clocked in at about 63 minutes before this stroke of editing genius came into the picture.
There’s a legend of a twenty-year-old (never nineteen, never twenty-one) murder mystery, after a frat boy was embarrassed to be found dressed in lingerie: “He’s a queer!” they all guffaw.
In the present, ‘he’ is revealed to be Brinke Stevens, back for revenge on the grown frat boys who humiliated her. They never moved away, of course. Any ‘sluts’ who happen to get in the way are fair game.
So in Reunion of Terror, HIV was dumbed down to a death sentence, in Sigma Die! gender dysmorphic issues equate to homicidal tendencies, and all girls are sluts who walk around with nothing on who are willing to have sex for a drag on a joint. It’s okay for hot girls to experiment with being gay, but boys throw around the word ‘fag’ at the drop of a hat.
Not to mention gutter-born production qualities, barely any comprehension of what a decent slasher film requires, this production group should just sidestep into exploitation porn, as that’s all they seem to give a fuck about. Seriously – fuck off.
Blurbs-of-shame: Bannister, Hartman, Anderson, Pride, and Shumski were all in Spring Break Massacre, and Anderson and Shumski were also in Reunion of Terror; Bannister was also in Bloody Bloody Bible Camp; Joe Estevez was in The Catcher, Scar, and Axe Giant; Brinke Stevens can be seen in American Nightmare, Bleed, Blood Reaper, The Cheerleader Massacre, Fatal Games, Jack-O, and most importantly The Slumber Party Massacre.
“Leah’s new graphic novel is going to be killer.”
Director/Writer: Chris Trebilcock / Cast: Katie Findlay, Enrico Colantoni, Stephen McHattie, Mark O’Brien, Alex Ozerov, Jennifer Dale, Emma Campbell.
Body Count: 3
Freddy worked through the dreams of his victims, The Creeper could smell their fear, and now we have The Dark Stranger who gets to his chosen quarry… …through art!?
As much a study in mental health and grieving as a horror film (and even less a slasher pic), we follow Leah, who witnessed the deterioration and eventual suicide of her artist mother. Ever since, Leah has suffered from agoraphobia and depression, unable to express herself through her own art and petrified of strangers.
Her doting dad (the ever-adorable Colantoni) has been approached by questionable fellow Randall Toth about putting on an art show featuring her late mother’s work, but he happens to resemble the fiend in the new series of sketches she’s creating, a story which seems to reflect her own sense of being lost in the world.
As it goes, the more artwork she creates, the more The Dark Stranger crosses over into the real world, using Leah’s blood as a means to control her, and breaking through to kill anybody who stands in the way – including her therapist. Actually, only her therapist.
Naturally, nobody’s going to believe the girl who had the breakdown, so she’s largely up against it on her own, although the arrival of cute TA Mark gives her added strength.
Much of the appeal here comes through great performances by the cast. Findlay, last seen in a rather thankless role in How to Get Away with Murder exudes vulnerable final girl vibes, and who wouldn’t want Keith Mars as their Dad? McHattie, of course, needs no practice playing a creep.
A significant chunk of the film is portrayed through the awesome artwork of Sean Scoffield, which pivots on creepy visuals that eventually suck Leah in, in a cute echo of the comic book kill from A Nightmare on Elm Street 5.
Shot for a meagre $1.3m, the cash stretches a long old way and much higher budgeted flicks don’t look this good. A viable franchise? Maybe a sequel or two, a night school art class perhaps?
Blurb-of-interest: Stephen McHattie was in Death Valley.